Credit Jeevan Farthing

Review: Bongo’s Bingo Christmas @ SWG3

The Glasgow Guardian returns to Bongo’s Bingo to review its Christmas offering.

There is no greater accumulation of heteronormative slaying than at Bongo’s Bingo Glasgow. Almost everyone in the queue snaking down Eastvale Place was sequin-clad or generally glammed up, and some were dancing on the benches before 7pm. In Glasgow there’s no settling down into your forties, fifties, or beyond – going off out to get plastered is still the done thing. A scour of the Bongo’s Bingo website listings unsurprisingly revealed nowhere else in the UK to have as many shows this month as Glasgow: the overlap in target audience between Mecca Bingo and Bongo’s Bingo is surely not as high in any other town or city.

The concept of Bongo’s Bingo is quintessentially cheesy, and brilliantly low-brow. In between six rounds of bingo are showers of coco pops, dance anthems and so much booze (after a couple of vodka sodas it was onto the signature venoms, with tequila shots in between). To call the range of prizes eclectic would undersell them: from life-size cutouts of ABBA members to cereal, from £100 to over £1000. The website promises something “wild” and “crazy”, but the experience is less crazy in its idiosyncrasies – the humour and the concept are fairly conventional – than in its complete rejection of restraint: you go feral or you go home. This was all the more apparent a couple of Saturdays before Christmas; the vibes were simply super. 

The theme of this month’s round of Bongo’s Bingo Christmas shows is ‘The Winner Takes All. This obviously included lots of ABBA, from Thank You For The Music to dance anthem Lay All Your Love On Me, but the response to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You was necessarily ecstatic, while rave tune after rave tune played in between the last games of bingo. Staple features of the game include those claiming bingo to numbers which haven’t been called out (alcohol-induced cognitive dysfunction is unavoidable), who are subsequently met with chants of “Why you always lying? Stop fucking lyyyinggg” as they undertake the degrading walk back from the stage. A personal highlight of the evening was the dance off for three people claiming bingo simultaneously, though it was the leather trousers that got Jean most of our votes.

As is right and proper, classic bingo formalities are adhered to when announcing the numbers – “4 and 5, fourty five”; “on it’s own, number 7” – only the walls are not the stale and peeling ones in a community centre, and the mixture of beverages is more colourful than milky tea. The appearance of number 69 inevitably manifested in male strippers taking to the stage, while number ten Downing Street was consistently followed by chants of “fuck the tories” – unlikely to occur in Leamington Spa – with Rishi Sunak appearing on the screen (and reminding most of us that he’s actually the Prime Minister). Our Belfast host insisted on us repeating number eight back to him in a Belfast accent, with inevitably deteriorating accuracy as the night went on.

To the disappointment of the numerous delegations still going feral, Bongo’s Bingo is wrapped up by half ten. Varying degrees of intoxication resulted in a plethora of onward plans: to Maccies, to bed, to the rave next door? What’s beautiful about Bongo’s Bingo is its ability to bring everyone sat (or mostly stood) on those benches together: whether you’re drinking the pain away of a stressful week at work, or celebrating the end of an utterly draining semester, you’re all there to be complete idiots. 
For all Bongo’s Bingo tickets and info, please go to: www.bongosbingo.co.uk

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